Some notes on what we are doing with ict in Sandaig. Testing of the blog software, some links and notes.



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archive link | Perma linkScotEduBlogs on iPhone

Given the September weekend weather and having a cold I spent a lot of time the weekend in front of my computer.

I spent most of the time following up links from the Scottish Learning Festival and teachmeet and smoothing out some idiosyncrasies in the way that the Sandaig Primary website works.

I also spent some time thinking about ScotEduBlogs.org.uk and footering with my latest toy. This lead to the discovery of iPhone Navigation an example of a web interface for the iPhone, you can see it your browser if you do not have a phone. I was able to create a webpage that grabbed the RSS from ScotEduBlogs and present in using the iPhone Navagation design. I wnt on to discover iui - Google Code based on Joe Hewitt's iPhone navigation work, iUI has the following features:
  • Create Navigational Menus and iPhone interfaces from standard HTML
  • Use or knowledge of JavaScript is not required to create basic iPhone pages
  • Ability to handle phone orientation changes
  • Provide a more "iPhone-like" experience to Web apps (on or off the iPhone)
I also got external links to work better. This ended up on ScotEduBlogs iPhone The pages provides a list of the latest posts on ScotEduBlogs which can be clicked to show the contents of their rss description, link etc. I gives in my opinion quite a nice way to keep up with ScotEdublogs on your phone, you just load the page in Safari. On the iphone you can bookmark a webpage and have it on your iPhone home screen I quickly discovered (thanks google & tweets from dalzinho ) that you can create a custom icon: How To Make iPhone Webclip Icons.

I've since discovered there is at least one other kit for creating iPhone 'web apps' WebApp.Net. I guess since the opening of the app store on iTunes the web app development has slowed a little but it looks like an interesting area t oplay in if you have not got programming ability.

Of course ScotEduBlogs iPhone is pretty simple, much simpler that the demo apps it is base on, just a basic rss reader, but it has me thinking if there are any developments that could be useful in school, I believe that some schools are buying sets of iPod touches for use in school and this might be an easy way to develop simple specific applications for them. It might be simple enough to create database/ key type pages for animal or plant identification. I also wonder if pupils could create pages for the iPhone/itouch, after seeing Neil Winton present about his pupils text based adventure game in a wiki The Caves Of Mull I wonder if something similar could be done for the iPhone?

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archive link | Perma linkWeb2 into glow

At the Scottish Learning Festival on Thursday I was asked to do a wee turn in the Glowing Lounge talking about glow. As my Authority have not started to roll out glow yet, my experience of glow has been limited. One area I have worked on, as a Masterclass facilitator, is the National ICT group where I've been working on a page giving information on Web 2 technologies.

I started by giving a very quick overview of a few websites and explained using ScotEduBlogs.org.uk and a netvibes page SLF2008 the idea that these services are mashable.

The SLF2008 page may be useful for find information about the festival as it gathers:

  • Links tagged slf2008 on delicious
  • A blog search for the tag SLF2008
  • Twitter tweets tagged SLF2008
  • Flickr photos tagged slf08 (at this time more than tagged slf2008)
  • My blog post about SLF2008
  • A youtube movie

I explained I wanted to do the same sort of thing on glow, to be able to pull in information using RSS (I used grazr for producing rss widgets) and embed-able widgets. At first I used a text editor webpart in glow, but was frustrated when that part strips out javascript rendering and multi-video youtube players ended up playing a random video.

I found that the xml webpart was a much better option the only problem is that in Safari and firefox on a mac the xml editor is somewhat small. I discovered, live in front of my audience, that IE on a pc has a bigger popup field which is easier to work with.
However by that time I had discovered a better solution, if you put all the code and script you like in a text document and upload that to glow you can use the url to that file to put in the xml field. It is a lot easier working with this that in a field on a web browser. Another advantages is that if you keep a local copy of your text file you can change it and re-upload to automatically update your page, much easier than going through the webpart editing again.

You can also if you like and know how, add style sheet information and other html. For those that can, it is better to wrap all your html in a div and refer to that, as you can find your styles taking over the glow page's own. It is probably best to only use the body of a webpage if you are using an html editor to get the bits you want embedded organised, I somehow managed to remove the glow sidebar from a page while testing it.

As an aside I had an interesting discussion with a member of the audience as I finished, she said she would not be happy embedding youtube for her pupils on glow as they could follow the link back to youtube and find unsuitable material. I explained that I was using a youtube custom player to show web 2 related videos to staff. you can see the custom player if you are interested in my selection and not in glow. I explained that if i wanted t oshow pupils youtube videos I would do so via Edublogs.tv a service that will allow you to upload your own movies or copy them across from youtube, these can then be embedded in glow for your class.

As I said there may be easier ways to do this, and when I get my glow mentor training I should find out, but this is a pretty practical way to get some Web 2 content into glow.

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archive link | Perma linkSLF 2008

Uploaded - 24�92008

I've just spent the last 2 days roaming around the Scottish Learning Festival for another year. As usual I've enjoyed the experience and learned a lot. I've not attempted to blog or record any of the sessions I attended this year, as my finger and brain speed are not up to it. I do have a collection of reports to recommend which are full of reflection, linkages and information: glowict's blogpost and slf2008 Bookmarks on Delicious (glowict in a delicious account I've set up to use in the ICT national glow group).

This year I was fortunate enough to spend a lot of time with Tom Barrett Tom seems to know about and have tried just about every good teaching idea I have heard of and more. His positive view on things is inspiring.

Even more than usual the best bit of SLF was the chance to meet with all of the colleagues whose blogs I have been reading and ideas that I've been following over the past year.

I had decided not to carry anything but my new iPhone to see how I got on without lugging a laptop around. I practice this meant that I could check links, take some photos and use twitter. My typing on the phone is not up to more that twitter's 140 characters for notes. It was nice not to carry anything, but I'd have liked to be able to type a bit faster or have used the VoiceNotes app a bit more, I did record David Noble asking Fiona Hyslop a question at her keynote and to my surprise it came out well (huge auditorium ), quite clear after a quick run through the Levalator and application I continue to be impressed with. Not quite as good quality as the official Fiona Hyslop Keynote SLF 08 from LTS.



Fiona Hyslop's keynote was fairly interesting, she seems to be very much in favour of lots of good stuff™ and after the rather disappointing glow chat it was very refreshing to hear her take questions from the floor. I had always, cynically perhaps, thought that questions to politicians would be prepared in advance. Much to the delight of the ScotEduBloggers in the audience the first question was from Neil Winton questioning the internet filtering for staff and pupils common in Scottish schools (38 minutes in on the LTS video), the minister's answer was that while she would be happy to have teachers in control of her child's access, it was a local Authority issue. This made me reacall John Connell's call, last year, for a national conference on the issue. A quick search for filter on John's blog is an excellent read.

Many of the other questions had similar answers the minister explaining her sympathy with the questioner but laying responsibility at the LA door. The minister did promise to discuss this and to help liberate the learning experience (40 minutes in on the vid).

ScotEdubloggers were well represented in the questioning as well as Neil, we heard David Gilmore, Adam Sutcliff and David Noble all asked questions.

The Minister has little time of league tables and stated that employers want folk with the 4 capacities rather than exam results (slight paraphrasing there). On watching bits of the video I am more impressed than I was the first time through, close ups may communicate more than a long distance view.

For the rest of the day I avoided keynotes and presentations, wandered the stalls and networked. At 2 I headed for the Education showcase and laughed with the children from Down the Pan ? a financial drama from West Dunbarton before taking part in The Discovery Hour: Inspiring Stories of Technology, Education and Design which was a series of 10 minute or so talks on interesting tech and teaching, my own tail was of two international collaborations that my class have been involved in most recently the weetom travelling healthy art show exhibition suitcase to Russia a combination of cardboard glitter and mp3 technology and our wrapping the world in poetry with students from Georgia USA (see posts in this archive and the McClure - Sandaig - blogs if you are interested). My point is that personal contact with participants is vital and keep task short and fun.

Wednesday Evening


Wednesday evening I went to teachmeetSLF08. Having tweeted an invite to Tom I was delighted that he was first up talking about work his school had carried out with the Philips Entertaible a fantastic looking multi touch table (see Tom's TeachMeet'08 Philips - a set on Flickr). The rest of teachmeet was perhaps slightly subdued compared to usual, maybe because of the uncertainty of the future of the even with Ewan's departure from the Education field for channel 4. This seems to have been resolved by Joe Wilson's tweet. Ewan's organisation and leadership on the evening were taken over ably by David Noble for both some of the preparation and the second half of the night. As usual the ideas from the presentations came quick and fast, a new feature was to split into groups for some. I followed Theo to the escalator outside to see his Canaletto at the SECC presentation, where he showed a dislike of categorising media into any particular corner and some lovely examples or rich media. Ian Stuart presented live from Islay which I think is a first for teachmeet and flashmeeting did not let us down, strange watching a presentation without a presenter!

Teachmeet was followed by TeachEat at Konaki Greek Taverna  where we were fed by RM. I alway enjoy the idea of sitting down in random order and talking to random folk, this time Theo, Mike from Radiowaves (who I forgot to thank for the teachmeet sponsorship), he told me of the very exciting NUMU project (NUMU is a safe community for young people to showcase their music; collaborate, compete and develop their talent) and the guy from WildKnowledge whose name I can't recall but who I had a great talk to about his products and could see that these could be extremely useful for recording trips. I popped into their stall on the floor next day and had another rundown of their products.



I started in Neil Winton's Wiki presentation, where he covered the use of wikis in the class, beautiful slides (Neils slideshare version SLF2008 Wikis (Simplified) is not quite as wonderful as the animations in the real thing), great examples and a warm delivery of a powerful message.
I stayed in the same room to hear Ewan talking about professional development. Ewan was as usual inspiring and reaffirming helping teachers move outside their comfort zone and share. twitter as a tool for all sorts of things including writing an article for the Economist from tweets was a left field example! Ewan will have notes for us on his blog very soon.

In the afternoon I was speaking about getting Web 2 into glow in the Glowing Lounge for a quick 10 minutes, I hope to write this up as a post sometime, but for the moment the easiest way I've found to pull rss and widgets into a glow page is to upload a file filled with html fragments and use that in an xml webpart.

Most of the rest of the day was spent chatting and exploring ideas and technologies. Lastly a couple of interesting random things tracksticks and Easi-Scope, inexpensive toys I would like to use in the classroom.

So I had a great couple of days at SLF this year thanks to my head teacher for releasing me, the main downside of SLF is the inability of many classroom teachers to attend maybe there will be a weekend version or Saturday morning added one year.

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archive link | Perma linkSLF and TeachMeet

Louis advertising TeachMeet08
Originally uploaded by digitalkatie
I am of to the Scottish Learning Festival in less than an hour didn't know I'd be making it today until a few days ago so am very pleased. I was always planning to go to Teachmeet this evening for what Ollie famously called the best cpd in the world and which is certainly be best night out you can have talking about schools and education! Think standup comedy with less jokes and more teach'n tech.
Quite a few of the ScotsEduBloggers have published their timetables, Ollie (who is speaking 6 times!) and Neil have very full days organised.
As I booked late I've not organised myself at all, I am going to get there early and follow my nose, try, as has be suggested to move out of my comfort zone.
The best bit of the SLF is not in my opinion the presentations, and certainly not the trade show, but the chance to meet and chat with colleagues from all over the place. I am particularly looking forward to meeting Tom Barrett from south of the border, who writes one of the most detailed and exciting blogs in primary education.

I'll not take a laptop today and am hoping that twitter will keep me on track with what others are doing, if you want to meet, suggest a good presentation etc, duing the next couple of days then tweet me Twitter / johnjohnston.

archive link | Perma linkThe Times They Are A-Changin'

Last week on Thursday I had a big day. I reached my half century, got an iPhone and had a job interview. I was very pleased with the phone, not particularly happy about hitting 50 and unsure about the interview until yesterday. It looks like I am going to be an ICT Development officer in North Lanarkshire.
I took a wee risk with the interview, I actually got the iPhone before my big day so the night before the interview I knocked together a quick imovie for a few stills as a self advertisement and put it on the iPhone, at the is there anything else you want to tell us bit I pulled out the phone and showed the video.

John @ Sandaig from John Johnston on Vimeo.

I don't know if it helped or I got the job in spite of the movie, I'll need to enquire.

The upshot is it looks as if my life will be changing quite a bit. It has not really sunk in yet, but I know I'll miss Sandaig, staff and pupils and the school website, they have all been a big part of my life for the last 16 (or is it 17) years.

A couple of asides, vimeo quality seems better than youtube, and how amazing is twitter, when I heard about the job I tweeted and was overwhelmed by good wish tweets, thanks folks

I should probably also move and rename this blog, any ideas for a new name will be gratefully received.